March 27, 2016 was Easter Sunday. I remember this because Good Friday fell on the Feast of The Annunciation (3/25) that year I certainly didn't need Google to remind me of this, yet this morning when I woke up I was greeted with a Rediscover This Day card with pictures from Pascha. Some of the pictures that stood out to me were these:
Holy Week in the Eastern Church starts with a two-day celebration of the Raising of Lazarus and The Entry into Jerusalem. The week moves towards the sorrow of Good Friday and ultimately to the joyful news of the Resurrection.
The first picture was taken on March 22, and the other pictures were taken on Pascha (3/27) at Banner University Hospital in Tucson. These pictures stood out to me because of the smile on Ryan's face and the backstory being that he wanted to take our basket of goodies to have a picnic with his Mom. For us, we had been on our own Holy Week journey that started on Holy Monday with Ryan learning just how bad his Mom's condition was and him asking the tough question of "Is Mom going to die?" When I told him the answer he was devastated and cried so much that night. The first picture was the first time he saw his Mom after learning about her prognosis. He climbed in bed with her and smiled. 6 days later he sat in that same bed fresh from singing "Christ is Risen from the dead, and by death he trampled death and to those in the tombs he granted life" Through all of it, he was smiling.
That week forever changed the life of my boy. A part of his innocence was lost that week, and a big part was lost 3 short weeks later. Like the layers of an onion, things have come up over the years that reveal just how much these events changed him. His journey through Holy Week reflected the message of the Passion and Resurrection as sung by the Eastern Church.
"The whole creation was transformed with fear, when it saw you hanging on the Cross, O Christ. The sun grew dark and the earth's foundations were shaken. All things suffered along with you, who made all things. O Lord, who willingly endured this for us, glory to you!"
"Seeing you on the Cross today, O sinless Word, the spotless Virgin wept with maternal tenderness and her heart was sorely grieved. Groaning in pain from the depths of her soul, she spent herself tearing at her cheeks and her hair and beating her breast pitifully: Alas, O divine Child, O Light of the world! Why are you fading from my eyes? The the ranks of angels were seized with trembling and said, "O Incomprehensible Lord, glory to you."
"It is the day of Resurrection, O People, let us be enlightened by it. The Passover is the Lord's Passover, since Christ our God, has brought us from death to life and from earth to heaven. We therefore sing the hymn of victory..Christ is Risen from the dead!"
"Come, let us partake of a new drink, not miraculously produced from the barren rock, but from the fountain of immortality, springing up from the tomb of Christ. In him is our firm strength. Christ is Risen from the dead!"
"You have descended into the realm of Death, O Christ, and have broken ancient bonds which held the captive. You arose from the tomb on the third day, like Jonah from the whale. Christ is Risen from the dead!"
"O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen and you are overthrown! Christ is risen and the demons are fallen! Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen and life reigns! Chris is risen and not one dead remains in the grave! For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages." Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom.
EWTN uses the phrase "Holy Week: The Week That Changed The World". While the Holy Week I wrote about and showed photos from may not have changed the entire world, it did change the world for Ryan. He has come so far since that week, and while challenges remain, he knows that death is overthrown through the Resurrection.
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